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University of KwaZulu-Natal (2019)

An evaluation of the role of public agricultural extension services towards promoting sustainable agriculture in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa.

Khwidzhili, Rendani Humphrey.

Titre : An evaluation of the role of public agricultural extension services towards promoting sustainable agriculture in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa.

Auteur : Khwidzhili, Rendani Humphrey.

Université de soutenance : University of KwaZulu-Natal

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management 2019

Résumé
South Africa lacks an inclusive policy on sustainable agricultural practices. This has resulted - in the continued over-exploitation of the natural resources by farmers. This study evaluates the role played by public agricultural extension services in promoting sustainable agricultural practices in Mpumalanga province. The framework of this study was adopted from a Framework for Evaluation of Sustainable Land Management (FESLM) which was developed through collaboration among international and national institutions as a practical approach to assess whether farming systems are trending towards or away from sustainability. The framework of this study was based on the five-pillared framework : maintaining and increasing biological productivity, decreasing the level of risk to ensure larger security, protecting the quality of natural resources, and ensuring agricultural production is socially acceptable. Most literature refers to sustainability and to sustainable agriculture, citing the common three pillared framework of economic, environmental and social sustainability which falls short of key elements found within the five-pillared framework. This study argues that the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices remains the domain of public agricultural extension services. The study proposes a need for the establishment of an inclusive policy that deals specifically with sustainable agricultural practices. In order to bring closer the context of the study, the definition of agricultural extension and the role it plays in agriculture is thoroughly discussed. The study also defines sustainable agriculture and why it became imperative in the last decade to expand the focus to the five pillars as a method for measuring outcomes in the future. The study evaluates the role of agricultural extension practitioners in Mpumalanga province in promoting sustainable agricultural practices. It further evaluates the role of extension managers in supporting extension practitioners. In conclusion, the study seeks to provide guidance to policy makers in considering the five pillars of sustainable agriculture when establishing agricultural policy on sustainable agriculture in South Africa. The study supports the need for training of extension managers, extension practitioners and farmers in the discipline of sustainable agricultural practices.

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